Cultural Orientation Day while Travelling
Doing something for the very first time is always challenging. But after some initial orientation everything becomes easier and, with practice eventually happens naturally without requiring much thought. The same is true for travelling and it takes this initial orientation time and practice to be fully comfortable. Especially your first day at a new place, the Arrival Day, is always the most challenging.
Of course every single day when you first arrive somewhere can be called an Arrival Day, but what makes the difference here is the weight of the circumstances. It is usually during the first day in a new country that you will face problems like getting used to a new currency, trying to learn some basic words in the local language, understanding the social structure and customs of the country, adjusting to the local cuisine, or learning which are actual prices and which are tourist prices. But it can also mean getting used to the climate, altitude, or overcoming a jet-lag in a new time zone.
Apart from the altitude adjustment, the most extreme Arrival Days for me were always those that felt like a complete Culture Shock. This was something that I experienced every single time when the culture of the country I was leaving and the culture of the country I was arriving at were pretty far apart. This effect was actually enhanced, the more time I had spent in the departing culture.
My first big Culture Shock was while arriving for the first time in South America. But then vice versa, after spending almost four months in South America, arriving in New Zealand felt like a Culture Shock again, as did arriving in Southeast Asia after almost three months in New Zealand and Australia. Because I continued my journey from Asia to Europe overland, the changes in culture were much more gradual. But obviously the cultural differences could still be felt and they should not be underestimated while traveling.
Arriving in countries like India will probably always feel like a Culture Shock, no matter where you are coming from. But the point here is rather to allow for some time to arrive, settle in and get comfortable in a new country. I have seen many travellers who arrived by plane in a country, went straight to the bus station and started going to other places. I never thought that this was a good idea for several reasons. First, it is a missed opportunity of seeing the city you have arrived at, secondly, before taking local transport it is always smart to get used to the currency, prices or customs, and third it can be very valuable to talk to local people or fellow travelers first, to understand which are the best places to actually take the bus to.
In any case, arriving in a new country and culture can be a day-filling experience, sometimes even stretching over several days. When I first came to India, it took me about two weeks to be fully comfortable, but then I absolutely loved spending a total of nine months there. Other travellers who never took the time to arrive, left rather frustrated after a short while. So it is good to keep in mind that taking a cultural Arrival Day and getting comfortable in a new country can potentially make or break the experience of your entire trip.
- Organizational Day
- Doing necessary Errands
- Packing and Purging the Backpack
- Dealing with Bureaucracy while Travelling